Sunday, October 9, 2011

satan and the pastor (2)

ME: The sad thing is, all the serfs have totally bought into the immutability of economic feudalism in America.

T: It's why the Occupy movement will not work.

ME: True. Even poor people in America believe that there is something diseased about themselves, and something holy and pure about the rich. I don't really get it. It's why so many of these ideologues who bash any economic balancing act that involves reestablishing previous tax rates on the super-rich attract so many working poor followers.

T: With pitchforks and torches.

ME: Ow!

(the needle buzzes)

I have never done this before. I am going to quote two brilliant paragraphs from one of the most talented American writers who ever lived. In fact, people who know me will verify that I do not use words like "favorite," but if I could only read one man's books for the rest of my life, they would be this man's books, which are among the only books ever written that I find myself capable of reading over and over and over.

Here are the paragraphs:

America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
-- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut